Summary

Birth:
19 Jul 1896 1
Death:
Nov 1977 1
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Full Name:
Robert Meusel 1
Birth:
19 Jul 1896 1
Death:
Nov 1977 1
Residence:
Last Residence: Downey, CA 1
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Social Security:
Card Issued: California 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-5049 1

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Bob Meusel

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                                                                                                                                                                                 Silent Bob played the outfield with Combs and Ruth for six years and was a key member of the legendary 1927 Yankees. He was also suspended (along with Ruth) for participating in a non-authorized barnstorming tour. These are three integral reasons why Meusel’s name will live on in the annals of baseball history.

(Pictured, Meuesel, Ruth, Combs)

He was born to Charles and Mary Meusel in San Jose, California, on July 19, 1896. Robert William was the youngest of their six children. The family later moved to an area in the vicinity of downtown Los Angeles. He attended the second Los Angeles High School, which was located on Fort Moore Hill. Meusel then went on to play for the Northwestern League's Spokane Indians (April-May 1917) and the Pacific Coast League's Vernon Tigers from 1917-1919. This excluded most of 1918, due to military service in the Navy. He accumulated 221 hits and 14 home runs to help the Vernon club win the 1919 championship. Those formidable stats helped propel him to the majors.

Meusel spent ten seasons with the Ruthian Yankees from 1920-29. His last big league season was with Cincinnati in 1930. His career batting average was a solid .309. He hit a modest .225 in six World Series and slammed 156 career home runs. Meusel was a member of the champion Yankees of ’23, ’27 and ’28. He was only topped by three players in RBIs for the 1920s (Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Harry Heilmann). Also, he was only topped by four players in home runs for the same decade (Ruth, Hornsby, Cy and Ken Williams). These rankings help to illustrate the greatness of Meusel as an offensive threat.

His value as a fielder was outstanding, tooLanguid Bob (as writers sometimes called him) had one of the best outfield arms ever—in the same class as  Roberto Clemente, Carl Furillo, Willie Mays, and Ichiro Suzuki. He could whip the ball with lightning-fast speed and laser-beam accuracy, to any base or home plate. Meusel’s throws were usually caught on the fly, rather than on a bounce or two. He developed his arm strength as a kid by constantly throwing stones for long distances.

Meusel got the appropriate nickname Long Bob for his 6’ 3” lean frame. He is the only American Leaguer to thrice hit for the cycle. The first came against Walter “Big Train” Johnson on May 7, 1921. The second one was against two largely unknowns in the A’s Jim Sullivan and Charlie Eckert on July 3, 1922. (Neither of them ever won a big league game.) The hat trick was achieved by benefit of a twelve-inning game on July 26, 1928. He holds the all-time record by twice stealing home in the World Series. They came off twenty-game winners Art Nehf (1921) and Jesse Haines (1928).

His older brother was the Giants’ Emil Irish” Meusel (of German descent), who four times drove in over 100 runs. One of their greatest thrills was opposing each other in three straight World Series from 1921-23. Their families during that time lived in the same apartment building in New York. The brothers had somewhat similar career statistics. For example, they both played eleven years, with one batting .310 and the other .309. They were the first siblings to combine for fifty home runs in the same season (1925). They were also the only brothers who both won RBI titles. Incidentally, Casey Stengel met his lifelong wife, Edna, through Mrs. Irish (Van) Meusel.

Long Bob hit .328 for the Yankees as a big league rookie in 1920. Another newcomer to the club that year was George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Despite their personality differences, they both enjoyed the nightlife and became friends. However, the flamboyant Bambino wasn’t part of any social group on the team and usually went his own way. On the other hand, Meusel was known for having an extremely quiet demeanor and nonchalant style of play. Manager Miller Huggins described him as only appearing to be indifferent. He showed the same emotion regardless of whether the team won or lost. Several players and writers described him as anti-social. Meusel's conversations sometimes only included the words "Hello" and "Goodbye." Still, he wasn’t the type to be easily irritated and disrupt team chemistry. Fans often mistook his skillful, effortless work for loafing. His long, loping strides in fielding the ball helped to give them that impression. Meusel married Edith Cowan on December 14, 1921. The couple would have one son and one daughter.

He helped the Yankees win consecutive pennants from 1921-23. They faced McGraw’s Giants in the post-season all three years. Meusel, Ruth and second-string pitcher Bill Piercy were suspended for going on a barnstorming tour after the 1921 World Series. This practice was prohibited back then for players who had just participated in a World Series. These three teammates were warned beforehand but still went ahead with their trip. (Carl Mays and Wally Schang took notice and backed out.) Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had been in office for less than a year and felt that his authority was being challenged. Therefore, Landis came down fairly hard on the defiant players by ruling them ineligible until May 20, 1922. Executives, fan groups and others unsuccessfully attempted to have the penalties lessened.  The Yankees won their first Fall Classic in 1923. Meusel delivered an eventual game-winning two-run single in the decisive Game Six. It was their inaugural season at The House That Ruth (or Ruppert) Built.

Meusel and Tony Boeckel (Braves’ starting third baseman) were involved in a three-car accident near San Diego on February 15, 1924. Boeckel suffered critical injuries and died one day later, despite undergoing an operation. Meusel escaped from the mishap unscathed. Their driver was Los Angeles theatrical man Bob Albright, who received minor injuries. The three were returning from a hunting trip in Mexico. Later that year, on June 13, Meusel helped ignite a riot against the ferocious Tigers at Detroit’s Navin FieldThe Yankees were leading, 10-6, when Bert Cole’s pitch nearly flattened Babe Ruth. Cole then proceeded to nail Meusel in the ribs.  Silent Bob (usually) sprinted toward the suspected beanball thrower and took a swing at him (but missed). It set off a free-for-all between the players, along with a heated confrontation between Ruth and player/manager Ty Cobb. Umpire Billy Evans tried to restore order by tossing out Meusel and Ruth. But then scores of unruly fans stormed the playing field, and fights started breaking out all over. Therefore, Evans forfeited the game to New York.

One of the all-time greatest outfields was Combs, Meusel and Ruth, which reigned from 1924-29. Meusel and Ruth would alternate positions, depending upon the individual ballpark because Ruth wanted to avoid facing the glaring sun. For instance, Ruth played right field in Yankee Stadium, since the sun shone on left field. The situation was reversed at Fenway Park. Meusel won the American League home run (33) and RBI (138) titles in 1925. That was the year in which Ruth suffered The Bellyache Heard ’Round the World. It was likely caused by his excessive late-night carousing, rather than by downing too many hot dogs and soda pops. The distracted Yanks plummeted from second to seventh place in 1925. After that season, Meusel never again reached such lofty heights in home runs.

Manager Miller Huggins reshuffled the Yankees and brought them back to greatness in 1926. A noticeable change was their middle infield combo of Pee Wee Wanniger and Aaron Ward, who were replaced with Mark Koenig and Tony Lazzeri. This revamped team won the pennant, but lost the World Series to Rogers Hornsby’s Cardinals.  In a famous pitcher/batter confrontation, Alexander whiffed Lazzeri with the bases loaded in Game Seven. Combs, Gehrig and Meusel were all straddling the base paths at the time. Meusel was at bat when the game ended two innings later on Ruth’s failed steal attempt of second base.

Meusel batted .339 and stole 24 bases (topped only by Sisler in league play) with the fence-busting 1927 Yankees. His speed was exemplified by stealing second, third, and home in the third inning of a game on May 16. This team’s best hitters were known as Murderers’ Row. Gehrig, Lazzeri, Meusel and Ruth each had over 100 RBIs in 1927. Ruth, Gehrig, and Lazzeri were the league’s top three home run hitters. Combs led the league in hits and triples. Often overlooked was the Yanks’ pitching staff, which led both circuits in ERA. This well-rounded team from the lower Bronx is traditionally regarded as the finest ever. They capped off their fantastic season by sweeping Pittsburgh in the World Series. The Pirates’ top batsmen included Pie Traynor, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, and Glenn Wright. They also had nineteen-plus game winners in Carmen Hill, Ray Kremer, and Lee Meadows.

Meusel accumulated over 100 RBIs with the Yankees for a fifth time in 1928. Nine players from this team would eventually make the Hall of Fame. (Waite Hoyt strongly believed that Long Bob belonged there, too.) They won the pennant that year, and then swept St. Louis in the World Series. His numbers tailed off in 1929. Hence, he was waived to the Reds for a last hurrah on October 16, 1929. Meusel’s new teammates included future Hall of Famers Leo Durocher, Harry Heilmann, George Kelly and Eppa Rixey. He returned to the minors with Mike Kelley’s Minneapolis Millers (1931) and then the original Hollywood Stars (1932). The latter team played their home games at old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles until moving to San Diego for the 1936 season.

Meusel participated in the Lou Gehrig Day ceremonies of July 4, 1939. It was held between games of a doubleheader with Washington. The current and former Yankees lined up along their designated areas in the infield (also the visiting Senators). Meusel stood with the veteran guard of Benny Bengough, Earle Combs, Joe Dugan, Waite Hoyt, Mark  Koenig, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock (his old road roommate), George Pipgras, Wally Pipp, Babe Ruth, Wally Schang, Everett Scott, and Bob Shawkey. The guest of honor received numerous gifts, ovations and tributes. And then the trembling Iron Horse gave his emotional speech. Its famous line: "Yet, today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

Silent Bob had cameo appearances in Slide, Kelly, Slide (1927), Alibi Ike (1935),Pride of the Yankees (1942) and The Babe Ruth Story (1948). His scenes in Pride of the Yankees included one with Gehrig alone inside the team's locker room. Two well-dressed players (followed by others) suddenly walked in. Meusel is the tall one wearing a fedora hat and smoking a cigarette. Another scene was when Wally Pipp had to leave the game due to seeing double vision. Meusel is leaning directly behind Ruth in the dugout. He worked for many years as a security guard at the former U.S. Navy base in Long Beach, California. Meusel was a longtime Redondo Beach-turned-Downey resident who died at Bellflower’s Kaiser Foundation Hospital on November 28, 1977. His wife and daughter survived him. He was interred at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California.

Bio

Bob Meusel with his brother, outfielderEmil "Irish" Meusel.    Babe & Bob



Robert William "BobMeusel (July 19, 1896 – November 28, 1977) was an American baseball left and right fielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for eleven seasons from 1920 through 1930, all but the last for the New York Yankees. He was best known as a member of the Yankees' championship teams of the 1920s, nicknamed the "Murderers' Row", during which time the team won its first sixAmerican League (AL) pennants and first three World Series titles.

Meusel, noted for his strong outfield throwing arm, batted fifth behind Baseball Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.[1] In 1925, he became the second Yankee, after Ruth, to lead the AL in the following offensive categories: home runs (33), runs batted in (138) and extra base hits (79). Nicknamed "Long Bob" because of his 6 foot, 3 inch (1.91 m) stature, Meusel batted .313 or better in seven of his first eight seasons, finishing with a .309 career average; his 1,005 RBI during the 1920s were the fourth most by any major leaguer, and trailed onlyHarry Heilmann's total of 1,131 among AL right-handed hitters. Meusel ended his career in 1930 with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit for the cycle three times, and was the second of three major leaguers to accomplish this feat as many as three times during a career.

His older brother, Emil "Irish" Meusel, was a star outfielder in the National League (NL) during the same period, primarily for the New York Giants.[1]

Meusel was born in San Jose, California, the youngest of Charlie and Mary Meusel's six children.[2] At an early age he moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Los Angeles High School. Meusel started his career with the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League in 1917. He joined the US Navy during World War I and played for the Navy baseball team.[3] He went back to the Tigers for the 1919 season, batting .330. He also played third base in the minors.[4]

On December 14, 1921 Meusel married Edith Cowan, with whom he had one daughter.

Meusel's contract was purchased by the New York Yankees in early 1920.[5] After a productive spring training, Meusel replaced future Hall of Famer Frank Baker at third base.[6] He played his first game on April 14, 1920. In his rookie season, Meusel had a .328 batting average with 11 home runs and 83 runs batted in over 119 games. He finished fourth in the league in doubles with 41 while sharing time with Duffy Lewis in left field.[7]

 In 1921, Meusel, Bill Piercy, and Ruth signed up to play in a barnstorming tour. It was a violation of baseball rules at the time, and Meusel and Ruth had previously been warned about playing with the tour. As punishment, Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended them for the first five weeks of the 1922 season and fined them their World Series cash share of $3,362 ($46,112 today) each.[10] That season Meusel only played in 121 games, hitting .319 with 16 home runs and 84 runs batted in[7] as he gradually shifted to left field to allow Ruth to instead play right field. Meusel occasionally played right field in Yankees games away from home to protect Ruth from the sun, as the sun affected Ruth's skill as an outfielder.[11] Despite the games he missed, he again led the AL in assists with 24. He hit for the cycle for the second time of his career in a win against the Detroit Tigers on July 21. The Yankees managed to win the American League pennant for the second year in a row, but they were again beaten by the Giants, this time in five games. Meusel had the highest batting average of the Yankees at the end of the Series with .300.

Before the 1924 season started, Meusel's close friend Tony Boeckelshortstop for the Boston Braves, was killed when the car in which he was riding flipped over in San Diego. Meusel was a passenger in the vehicle but escaped unhurt.[14] That year Meusel hit .320 with 12 home runs and 120 runs batted in, playing in 143 games. In a game against the Tigers on June 13, Meusel was involved in one of the most notorious brawls in baseball history. With the Yankees leading 10–6 in the top of the ninth inning, Ty Cobb, the star and manager of the Tigers, gave pitcher Bert Cole the signal to hitMeusel with a pitch. Ruth saw the signal and warned Meusel, who was hit in the back and rushed to fight Cole. Both teams rushed onto the field to brawl, and Cobb and Ruth started fighting as well.[15] Over a thousand fans also rushed onto the field, and a riot erupted. The police managed to control the brawl and arrested several fans. The umpire of the game, Billy Evans, pushed Meusel and Ruth out of Navin Field to safety.[16] American League President Ban Johnson punished Meusel and Cole by fining them and issuing a ten-day suspension.[17]

Meusel had a breakout year in 1925. He led the American League in home runs (33), runs batted in (138), games played (156) and extra base hits (79). Despite this, he finished merely tied for 18th position overall for the AL's Most Valuable Player award, far behind winner (and former Yankee) Roger Peckinpaugh of the Washington Senators. The Yankees had their worst season of the decade, finishing seventh in the league with a 69–85 record. In the following 1926 season, Meusel only played in 108 games, batting .315 with 12 home runs and 81 runs batted in.[7] In the 1926 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Meusel dropped a key fly ball with one out and the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Game 7, allowing the Cardinals to tie the game 1-1; the next batter singled to drive in two more runs.[18] Meusel had chance to redeem himself later in the game, but made infield outs in both the fifth and seventh innings, each time with two men on base. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with New York trailing 3-2, Cardinals starting pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander retired the first two batters and then walked Ruth. Meusel was up to bat when Ruth tried to steal second base, and catcher Bob O'Farrell threw him out, ending both the game and the Series; Meusel only hit .238.[19]

Meusel was a key member of the 1927 New York Yankees team, which many consider to be one of the greatest baseball teams ever. That season Meusel played in 135 games, hitting .337 with 8 home runs and 103 runs batted in, and finished second in the league with 24 stolen bases;[7] on May 16 he stole second, third and home in one game. In the 1927 World Series, Meusel batted only .118 and broke the record for the most strikeouts in a four-game series with seven,[20] but the Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games. In 1928 Meusel played in 131 games, hitting .297 with 11 home runs and 111 runs batted in.[7] He hit for the cycle a record-tying third time on July 26 against the Tigers.[21] The Yankees reached the World Series for the third year in a row, playing the Cardinals in a rematch from two years previously. In Game 1 of the Series, Meusel hit the only home run in his World Series career as the Yankees won the game and went on to sweep the series 4–0.[22]

Prior to the start of the 1930 season, the Yankees sold Meusel to the Cincinnati Reds, and he played in 110 games, hitting .289 with 10 home runs and 69 runs batted in.[7] The Reds released Meusel after the season, and he went on to the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association where he played the 1931 season, hitting .283.[23] He went back to the Pacific Coast League in 1932, where he played 64 games with the Hollywood Stars, batting .329 with four home runs before retiring.[24]

Meusel's major league career ended with 368 doubles, 94 triples, 156 home runs, a .497 slugging percentage, 1,067 runs batted in, 826 runs scored and 140 stolen bases. Most of his various Yankee career records for right-handed hitters were broken by Tony Lazzeri in the mid-1930s; Joe DiMaggio broke his marks for batting average, slugging average and doubles in the late 1940s.

Meusel received the most recognition for being a member of the "Murderers' Row" teams of the mid-1920s, which included Ruth, Gehrig, second baseman Tony Lazzeri and center fielder Earle Combs. He shares the record for the most times hitting for the cycle with three, tying the mark set by Long John Reilly in 1890; Babe Herman later tied the mark in 1933. Meusel had one of the strongest arms of the era; in his obituary, The New York Times called his throwing arm "deadly accurate".[1] Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel, who played on the 1921 through 1923 Giants teams, said that he had never seen a better thrower.[1]

Harvey Frommer described Meusel as a heavy drinker and womanizer who did not get along with his teammates. His manager Miller Huggins called him "indifferent".[26] He was quiet and reserved, rarely giving newspaper interviews until his career was winding down.[27] He was also known for his lazy attitude, such as refusing to run out ground balls, which many said kept him from achieving greatness.[28] Regularly among the league leaders in strikeouts, his 24 career strikeouts in the World Series were a record for right-handed hitters until Yankees Hank Bauer and Gil McDougald surpassed it in 1958.

Meusel was considered for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame by its Veterans Committee in 1982, but the committee instead selected former commissioner Happy Chandler and former Giants shortstop Travis Jackson in its balloting.[29]

Meusel died of natural causes at his home in Downey, California in 1977, and was buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.

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